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Impact of fuel-reduction burning on the frog Geocrinia lutea in southwest Western Australia
journal contributionposted on 1997-09-01, 00:00 authored by Don DriscollDon Driscoll, J Dale Roberts
The four frog species in the Geocrinia rosea complex occur in state forest in southwest Western Australia. Fire management of these forests involves fuel-reduction burning with an average rotation of five to nine years. In this study we examined the impact of fire on Geocrinia lutea by counting calling males in six pairs of burned and control sites from 1992 to 1994. The immediate impact of the fire on G. lutea adults, and the survival of G. lutea eggs and larvae after the fire, were also addressed. We found that fuel-reduction burning in spring was associated with a significant decline in the number of calling males. The populations had not recovered two years after the fire. Up to 29% of the calling males may have been killed in the fire. Egg and larval survival was not significantly different between treatments. However, the treatments did differ in the cause of death, with higher in-situ egg death and lower predation at burned sites. The short-term impact of spring fuel-reduction burns may pose a serious threat of extinction for very small populations. The endangered species Geocrinia alba has many small, isolated populations and frequent fire may therefore be inimical to their survival. However, we do not know if there is a long-term effect. Populations may or may not have time to recover between fires.